Confronting the challenges in reconnecting urban planning and public health

Am J Public Health. 2004 Apr;94(4):541-6. doi: 10.2105/ajph.94.4.541.


Although public health and urban planning emerged with the common goal of preventing urban outbreaks of infectious disease, there is little overlap between the fields today. The separation of the fields has contributed to uncoordinated efforts to address the health of urban populations and a general failure to recognize the links between, for example, the built environment and health disparities facing low-income populations and people of color. I review the historic connections and lack thereof between urban planning and public health, highlight some challenges facing efforts to recouple the fields, and suggest that insights from ecosocial theory and environmental justice offer a preliminary framework for reconnecting the fields around a social justice agenda.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • City Planning / history*
  • Communicable Disease Control / history
  • Community Health Planning / history*
  • Community Participation / history
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Environment Design
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Industry / history
  • Interinstitutional Relations*
  • Philosophy, Medical / history
  • Public Health / history*
  • Social Justice / history
  • United States
  • Urbanization / history